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From Cleveland's "Modelmakers Hobby Catalog No. 1, 1936-1937.

James D. Powell worked at Cleveland Models for many years; he was responsible for many designs, drawings and the artwork on kit boxes and advertising that you are familiar with. J.D. Powell wrote a 1945 book, Junior Model Planes, that he illustrated with his clever style. Although working for Cleveland at the time, there is no mention of Cleveland Models in the book's text. As the master illustrator for Cleveland, Powell's book is mentioned here because it ties in with his his work at Cleveland. Several illustrations from the 60 page book are shown below.




CLEVELAND MODEL & SUPPLY KIT BOXES - A Selection

The early Cleveland kit containers, starting with the Great Lakes Trainer Kit SF-1, are described in Kit Annex 5. As World War 2 began to involve the United States, Cleveland Models made a big push to package their kits in an attractive box with red, white and blue graphics, a large picture of the airplane, and a box big enough to contain significant contents including liquids; even the huge models such as the DC-3 and B-17 used the same graphics although in a much larger box.

More boxes are depicted below to continue this exploration of Cleveland containers. Starting from the top, three of the silver boxes with either blue or black stripes are shown - these were the follow-on to the "Hobby Tubes" and several different label styles were used, some of which were just reuse of the Hobby Tube labels. The next box is the "All American" box starting in the mid-1930s and which was used up to WW2 - end labels featuring the airplane were used; as mentioned previously, some of the early WW2 warplane kits such as the Spitfire were packaged in this style box along with the new, larger "Master Scale Model Flying Kit" which first came out in March 1941 with the first four warplanes. The Master kit with red, white and blue stars and stripes featured a large label picturing the airplane - in the case below, the Airacobra, Kit SF-76. Also during WW2, the Industrial Training kits, the "IT" series with 36" wingspans, were issued in cheaper picture boxes with natural cardboard background, as shown for the P-40 Warhawk below. Following WW2, many new models were designed by Cleveland, most of a simpler or cheaper variety than the scale "SF" series; the small box contains some stick models for the "Model Airplane Course Kit II." The next box is s special semi-solid model of the B-29 in 3/16" scale - I believe that this was the only one of that series. Very cheap models are next shown, the "Quicky" line and the "E-Z" series with similar size boxes. Beginning in 1949, some of the "SF" designs were reissued as the "M" series and several boxes were used for the redesignated " scale kits - the simple red, white and blue "Cleveland Master Kit" box, no label, shown at the bottom, was used for the "M" kits along with another printed (using the airplane) cardboard box using the natural paper similar in appearance to the "IT" kits (this box is not shown here, but check the Gee Bee Super Sportster in Kit Annex 4). In the mid 1950s, a limited number of the "SF" kits were manufactured and these were packaged in the cardboard "mailer" box which was a lid type box with faint printing of Cleveland Model & Supply in blue and had no labels - the airplane and kit number were usually stamped on the end. These "mailer" boxes are shown in Kit Annex 5. Cleveland sold solid models and railroad kits during the 1930s but I don't have any photos of those boxes - if you can provide pictures of the Cleveland railroad kit boxes, I will be happy to post them here.

Also, in the second photo below, the large "Master" boxes for the B-17 and DC-3 are shown along with the initial WW2 warplane model kit, the Grumman "Skyrocket," SF-75. The DC-3 kit was designed in 1946; it is not known how many years this kit was sold in the "Master" box but obviously it is a postwar container - later, the DC-3 was sold in a large "mailer" box. Note the size of the DC-3 compared to the standard size "SF" kit box for the "Skyrocket."

Simple rubber powered, non-scale, "Mile Fliers."

The Cleveland kit of the Lockheed Hudson, SF-95, was the "Model of the Month" in September 1942 advertising. As mentioned previously, the SF-95 plan was originally dated 1942, as was the printwood, but later kits were issued with a plan dated 1944 with the same 1942 printwood. Of particular interest, the Hudson kit appears to be the only Cleveland Master Kit, to my knowledge, that came in the Master Kit box with a full color illustration. Jim Powell's wonderful graphics are printed in the marvelous camouflaged British scheme on this large Master Kit box which measures a full 24 " in length, the same as the B-17 and DC-3 boxes, but slightly less in width, 9 ". The kit, shown below, has a 1944 plan date. The Hudson kit, with a plan dated 1942, also appeared in color.

There were many other Cleveland kit boxes used in the postwar period, such as used for gliders, U-control, free flight models such as the "Playboy," and the larger 1" or 2" scale models. Several examples are shown in Kit Annex 5 for the Luscombe Sedan and the Great Lakes Trainer. None of the postwar boxes, for any of the Cleveland kits, equalled the " scale "Master" boxes in quality of graphics.

SPECIAL KIT. The Waco C Cabin, Kit No. SF-37, is an absolutely beautiful Cleveland model. The completed model is pictured on page 129 of Herm Schreiner's book; this kit was designed in 1933 and later came out as a Dwarf kit, D-37, around 1935/36. Schreiner mentions, in his delightful Cleveland book, that the Berry Brothers (Berryloid Finishes) ran an ad campaign in 1936 in Popular Aviation that featured special Cleveland " Dwarf kits in a national model building contest; the Berryloid story is on pages 161-162 of the book. Three kits were featured over a three-month period: The Waco C, Seversky P-35 and the Beechcraft C-17B. Click on the cover picture below from the October 1936 issue of Popular Aviation to view the magazine and the full-page, back cover color ad for the Berryloid promotion. The ad pictures a kit box which, if actually printed that way, must be one of the most collectible and rare kits in the Cleveland line as it also includes bottles of Berryloid dope, also specially marked.

Click this cover for 1936 Berryloid ad.




A CLEVELAND MYSTERY

The history of Cleveland Models is replete with little mysteries that await solutions. I recently ran across a Cleveland ad in the March 1930 issue of the magazine Aeronautics, a very good aviation magazine which covered both business and technical issues along with a section entitled "Model Department" written by Bertram Pond. Ads in this issue included Cleveland, Ideal, Midland Model Works, Miniature Aircraft, A.F.Selley, Aero Model , Peru Model Airplane Shop (Bertram Pond), Melvin Mfg., Hawthorne Model Aero, National Model Aircraft, Power Model Supply and Mann & Benton. The Cleveland ad features their first scale model kit, the Great Lakes Sport Trainer Model 2T-1, which came out in 1929/30 as Kit SF-1E, yet the ad copy is directed more at selling their dime catalog and telling of a new model airplane wind tunnel that Cleveland is preparing. A wind tunnel!?

Cleveland's ad campaign for the Great Lakes kit was kicked off with a Model Airplane News ad in February 1930 for a " scale drawing of the Great Lakes, not a kit. The advertising for the kit was then put in the hands of the Carpenter Advertising Agency with a May 1930 MAN announcement of the kit which began the style of the Cleveland ads for the future. The strange Aeronautics ad is obviously not the result of an advertising agency as it only alludes to the new kit and touts the research efforts of Cleveland which will appeal to "Model Aircraft Engineers."

I can find no other mention of the Cleveland model wind tunnel. Was this just a promotional gimmick or was there a projected tunnel program in 1930? It surely never happened as no further information was offered in Cleveland material subsequent to this 1930 piece. Read the following ad as it is quite instructive as to the thinking of Ed Pachasa in early 1930.




BELL AIRACOBRA, KIT SF-76, FIRST OF THE WW2 WARPLANE SERIES.

The Bell Airacobra kit shares historic interest for the Cleveland line as it was one of the first of the WW2 warplane kits, SF-76, along with the Grumman "Skyrocket," SF-75, the Messerschmitt Me-109, SF-74, and the Spitfire, SF-73. Cleveland Models introduced "Four Sensational New War Planes" in the March 1941 issue of Model Airplane News; these were the first of Cleveland's scale models of World War 2 military aircraft. Also, these were the first Cleveland kits to come in the newly designed, larger "Master" style box; this box measured 9" x 18 1/2" (twice the width of previous SF kit boxes ), had a removable lid and had a space in the center for liquids.

The "Skyrocket" kit, SF-75 is shown below.



CLEVELAND SPITFIRE, KIT SF-73

The Spitfire, kit SF-73, was one of the first four Cleveland kits of WW2 airplanes. This kit is a wartime version in the Master box. The lid is spotted and stained with some scuffing and rates about a "5 to 6". The contents are complete; the printwood is mostly hardwood per the wartime restrictions. The plan is in nice condition with no tears. This kit of the famous Spitfire is priced at $215.00.



GRUMMAN WILDCAT, KIT SF-83

The Grumman Wildcat was also one of the earlier wartime kits designed by Cleveland. The nice kit shown below has a rather interesting history. I obtained this kit from the original owner. During WW2, around 1942/43, he had attended an afternoon movie showing which had Grumman Wildcats in it - probably Wake Island which came out in August 1942. He was so enthusiastic about the Grumman fighter that he walked out of the theater and immediately found a hobby shop and bought this Wildcat model - he kept it all the years since WW2 but never started building it.

The X-ACTO company put out a cardstock template sheet, using the Navy's school program template as the source, of the Grumman Wildcat F4F-4 as a promotion piece for the movie Wake Island. Presumably these were handed out at the theaters. The sheet invited the recipient to "Make plane for U.S. Army Air Force," and to send the completed model to "Science Service" in New York to be forwarded to the First Fighter Command who needed, "36,000 exact scale model airplanes."







SOME CLEVELAND " SF "SHORT" KITS FOR SALE

A number of "short kits" which consist only of original balsa printwood and plans (either original plans or modern copies by Cleveland ) will be offered here. These short kits have no boxes. Just plans and printwood. Some of the short kits have original plans and some have newly printed plans from the current Cleveland Model & Supply in Indianapolis.

These short kits can be built or plans and printwood copied. Some of the original plans may have short tears, wear or discoloration.


SF-74 MESSERSCHMITT "Me.109" FIGHTER This is the original 1941 plan and printwood. A "built" SF-74 model can be viewed at the top of the Vintage Model Kits Annex 3. The original Cleveland built SF-74 kit used for advertising, as exhibited at the Air Force Museum at one time, is pictured in Kit Annex 5. The price of this short kit is Sorry Sold.

SF-74 built by Marc Knoll; wood covered.


E-5018 EAGLET SOARER - 48" CLASS "C" TOWLINE OR CATAPULT GLIDER This is an original plan (rolled), usable but slightly wrinkled, along with three sheets of printwood, T1 and two T2's. This plan is dated 1940. The 1940 plan shows a carved balsa fuselage pod, but the printwood is dated 1943 and shows fuselage pod formers for a conventional former and stringer structure. Also included is an original 1943 plan, E-5018c, which shows the built-up fuselage. Price with two sets of plans is $35.00.


SF-84 JUNKERS JU87 "STUKA" DIVE BOMBER A modern Cleveland Model & Supply Company plan (folded) in 1:16 scale (3/4"). An added sheet contains a "Pattern Supplement" which has all of the required printwood patterns. Balsa printwood consists of eleven sheets, all in as new condition. Price of this short kit is Sorry Sold.


SF-91 NORTH AMERICAN P-51 MUSTANG This is a modern plan with an added "Pattern Supplement" sheet. Several versions of the Merlin-powered P-51 can be built from this plan. Five printwood sheets are provided. The price of this package is SORRY SOLD.


SF-5B 1931 LAIRD SPEEDWING "SUPER-SOLUTION" This is a modern plan with a "Pattern Supplement" for Doolittle's Laird Super-Solution. Four sheets of printwood are provided. This builds into a very handsome model. Price is $SOLD.


SF-80 CURTISS SBC-4 "HELLDIVER" The SBC-4 Helldiver is one of Cleveland's best kits - the last of the Navy's biplanes and very good looking. This is a modern plan (folded) along with a "Pattern Supplement." Ten printwood sheets are provided for a price of $SORRY SOLD.


D-55 DOUGLAS DC-2 TRANSPORT This 1933 Douglas Airliner kit was only issued in "Dwarf" scale of " and was designed in 1936. Ed Packard of Cleveland built one model in " scale and decided that it was too large for the kit market, so the DC-2 kit was only sold in the Dwarf scale version. Details of this drawing and original kit are shown in Vintage Wood Kit Annex 5 - this modern plan is shown in Annex 5 although an original plan has since been obtained for the original kit. This modern plan also has a second sheet supplement for printwood. Fourteen printwood sheets dated 1936 are provided. This would make up into a very realistic model of the famous DC-2. Price for this short kit is $115.00.


T-74 MESSERSCHMITT Me 109 NAZI FIGHTER This is a plan and tissue only, no printwood. The Industrial Training model kits had 36" wingspans and were somewhat simplified (lighter) than the "SF" kits. This is one of the 36" FAMOUS WARPLANE SERIES - an original plan dated 1942 in great condition along with the original silkspan tissue. Double folded to about 10" x 14", this plan doesn't appear to be from a kit but is probably one that Cleveland sent out as a separate item. A nice plan which would be a good accompaniment for the SF-74 plan. This plan and tissue is available for $SOLD. A portion of the plan is presented below.


CLEVELAND SF-95 LOCKHEED "HUDSON" BOMBER - OriginalPlan Only


A very nice, original plan for Cleveland kit No. SF-95, the Hudson bomber; a large and detailed drawing. Own this original plan at a price not much more than a current copy. Price is $38.50.


PEERLESS "MERCURY" A 1938 original plan and printwood for the Peerless "Mercury," a 34" wingspan rubber-powered model. "A scientifically designed outdoor fuselage model airplane" with 113.5 sq. in. wing area, N.A.A. Class "C." This is a twin-rudder beauty with an original plan in great condition. Three sheets of printwood are provided. The 1/32 sheet of ribs should have two sheets so a copy would have to be made. Also the 1/16" sheet requires 2 sheets so a copy of the parts would be required. This 1938 kit may have been sold by Cleveland as they purchased the assets of Peerless during WW2. It would appear that the 1939 Scientific "Miss World's Fair," 50" wingspan model, is a somewhat larger knock-off of this 1938 Peerless plan - both models are gorgeous. This is one to build - you can copy the plan and printwood and save the originals. Own the 1938 "Mercury" for $42.50.




CONSOLIDATED BURKARD SOLID MODEL KITS

The Vintage Model Airplane Kits page features a group of Consolidated/Burkard manufacturer's patterns which are rare, one-of-a-kind items which demonstrate the ingenuity and also the very basic simplicity (austerity?) with which the model airplane industry approached the problem of production techniques required for mass fabrication of model kits in the 1930s and early 1940s. These shop patterns were used for manufacturing the solid model kits in the Consolidated/Burkard line which began with Burkard in 1940 in the Bronx.

Several of the original Consolidated line of carved fuselage models are offered here. The info below is repeated from the pattern listings.

Historical background. Unfortunately I do not have much information about the original Burkard company which was run by Joe Burkard. The first advertisement for solid models that I can find is in the November 1940 issue of Model Airplane News which states, "9 Great Deluxe Solid Scale Models Now $1 Each Postpaid," all military aircraft of the period. No similar ad appeared in any of the 1940 Air Trails magazines so the Burkard advertising budget was apparently limited. The July 1940 MAN carried a Burkard ad for gas-powered, free-flight seaplane kits; nice looking models but this may have been a one-time shot at advertising that line.

These early Burkard solid kits consisted of profile-cut balsa and were rather large models in 1:24 scale (1/2" = 1-foot), the line was comprised of the Me 109, P-39, Hurricane, Curtiss Hawk 75, Gloster Gauntlet, Grumman F3F-2, Spitfire, Boulton Paul Defiant and the Stuka - a rather odd mix. The ads did not give a scale but merely stated that wingspans were up to 23 inches. At the time, Burkard's address was Larchmont, N.Y. By December of 1942, the product line had grown somewhat (still outline-cut) and their address changed to 3079 Third Ave., N.Y.C. The Burkard plans were nicely drawn.

Some model industry gossip from Air Trails, June 1942: "The Burkard Engineering Co., under new management and in greatly increased quarters, has just enlarged their productive capacity by expending real money to get additional equipment that will guarantee their position in the field for a long time to come. The present line of $1.50 half-inch-scale solids with cut-out parts will continue in production. Balsa wood, should it get scarcer, may be replaced with pine. A super deluxe series with ready-carved fuselages and shaped parts, including metal foil covering, is being readied and will sell for $2.95." The Burkard ad in that same issue mentions that "Lifetime Carved Solid Models" would be "ready soon", "about May 10th."

Another model plane enthusiast, Art Hasselbach, was an employee of United Aircraft in Connecticut in the late 1930s. He was an active model free flighter and fixed wing pilot. Art moved to New York in 1939 and started a retail model airplane business in his father-in-law's stationery store in the Bronx where Art sold kits. He soon decided to make his own kits. Art turned the retail business over to his mother and he bought out the Burkard Model Engineering company and manufactured kits using their name. This happened in late 1941 as the Burkard address (3079 Third Ave.) coincidentally is next door to the eventual address of what would become the Consolidated Model Engineering Company, 3087 Third Avenue. Art also bought a propeller manufacturer, Bohsen Propellers of East Orange, N.J., which netted him an accurate prop carving machine which he put to immediate use carving "Redi-Carved" fuselages for the kits from Burkard which originally had only profile cut parts. He changed advertising to "Consolidated" instead of Burkard and, by early 1944 included the phrase, "Producing Burkard, Bay Ridge & Jackson kits" in his advertising but soon dropped this reference. The kit line was increased with new models including a line of 1/4" scale using the same plans in reduced size (for the fighters) and the kits were offered in standard profile-cut only or in the "Deluxe" versions which were "Redi-Carved." Even under wartime restrictions, the company pumped out 3,000 models per day; the R.H. Macy & Co. carried his complete line of 40 kits. When balsawood became scarce, Art used any wood he could come up with to make the kits, even to scrounging scrap wooden cases.

The kits shown below (with the exception of the B-25) are from the earliest group of Redi-Carved kits; the plans show the company name as "Burkard Giant Solids - manufactured by Consolidated Model Engineering Co., Bronx, N.Y." The complete Redi-Carved line in 1943 consisted of the following kits, as listed in their advertisement in Air Trails for the month of October 1943. You can view the entire ad by clicking here. Some of these kits were dropped from the line by 1944.

The kits shown below are only offered in a plain brown wrapper in case you don't want your neighbors or postman to know that you are still making balsa dust at your age. The kits are complete but are without original boxes.


LOCKHEED HUDSON RECONAISSANCE BOMBER

This kit is in " scale with a "Redi-Carved" pine fuselage. The original patterns, along with a boxed kit, are for sale on the Vintage Model Airplane Kits page. Complete kit. Less original box, is $75.00.


SPITFIRE

This kit is in " scale giving a large wingspan of slightly over 18-inches, a very impressive size. The model kit is complete with the exception of the original box. The nicely carved fuselage is made from pine. The price of this kit is $75.00.



WESTLAND WHIRLWIND

A very large solid model with a 22 1/2 inch wingspan. This deluxe kit features a carved fuselage as well as two carved nacelles made of hardwood for fine grain finishing. A superb kit, without the original box, priced at only $95.00.

The beautiful Westland Whirlwind first flew on October 11, 1938 from Boscombe Down. The October 2008 issue of Fly Past magazine has a thorough coverage of the Whirlwind in its "In Focus" section. The views below are from that article.

A Westland Whirlwind advertisement from the October 29, 1943 issue of the British magazine, "The Aeroplane," may be viewed by clicking here.



NORTH AMERICAN B-25

A Consolidated Burkard solid model kit of the North American B-25. The kit features a carved fuselage made of hard balsa. Also note the incredible carving of the two engine nacelles and adjoining wing. This kit does not have the original box. A good plan for this model which has a large wingspan of 18 inches. Own a B-25 for a mere $85.00.



B-26 MARAUDER

A Consolidated Burkard solid model kit of the B-26 Marauder with fully carved fuselage. Price $75.00.



CONSTRUCT-A-PLANE CO. ZERO KIT

A balsa wood, profile-cut solid kit of the Japanese "Zero." This kit was made by the Construct-A-Plane Co. of Brooklyn, N.Y. A well drawn plan and acceptable balsa parts. The Construct- A-Plane Co. was an old line manufacturer of model airplane kits, based in Brooklyn, New York. The company began business in the early 1930s and sporadically ran ads in the Model airplane News in the early 30s. Click on the cover of the August 1933 issue below to view a full page advertisement in that issue for Construct-A-Plane kits.

The advertisement shown below is from the Model Airplane News of April, 1933. This company was started by a Mr. Kirkman and a Mr. Friedman; they depended upon free lance designers, such as Jerry Klein ( later to be a designer for Continental as he followed Mr. Kirkman who started the Continental company) to create the model kits.

The flying model kit shown below is a 12-inch wingspan Monocoupe as shown in the 1933 ad.

Construct-A-Plane had a few large ads in the mid 1930s, up to January 1936, in MAN and Flying Aces and then dropped out of print advertising (or production?). By 1940, an ad showed up in Model Airplane News for the "NEW Construct-A-Plane Co.," still in Brooklyn but at a new address, as shown below. This is the last advertisement that I've located for the company.

It is obvious that following this ad, the company began a line of large scale (in the 1:32 range) balsa solid models of WW2 warplanes, but these particular kits weren't advertised nor have they shown up in any of the catalogs of the common kit distributors and sellers of the era. Airplanes that are known to have been in this line are the Spitfire, P-40, P-47 and this Zero - perhaps others. Maybe these kits were sold to dime stores and department stores only. The box lid for the solid line is shown below - common for all models and doesn't have any location information for Construct-A-Plane.

The kits were in different scales; as an example, the P-40 kit has a scale of 1"=2 ' on the plan versus this Zero kit which has a wing span of 13.84" and the plan specifies that the model is drawn to a scale of 1"=2.8', or a scale of about 1:34 for the A6M2 Model 21 Zero, which had a wingspan of 39' 4.44". This kit does not include an original box but all parts are included as can be viewed in the photo below. The large plan is accompanied by an instruction sheet which also has information about the Zero.

Sort of a mystery line of WW2 solid kits which are the equal of the Burkard giant scale line of profile-cut kits (some shown on this website). You can own this unusual 1940s kit, without original box, for only $55.00.



MODEL SHIPWAYS GJØA - NORTHWEST PASSAGE SLOOP

Amundsen's Arctic Sloop is the subject of this beautiful Model Shipways kit from 1950. Model Shipways was bought out by Model Expo and some of the solid hull kits are currently being sold. This kit of the sloop Gjoa is no longer being offered. The kit is in "as new" condition and includes numerous plan sheets and instructions plus a photo sheet of the actual Gjoa when it was in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Slowly deteriorating and uncared for, the Gjoa was moved to the National Maritime Museum in Oslo, Norway in 1972. A Google search will find lots of info on the sloop and a brief summary may be viewed by clicking here.

The kit is in 5/32" scale and includes metal fittings, everything you need to create a magnificent model of this sloop. A small portion of the main plan is shown above. The yellow Model Shipways lid-type box is in excellent condition. The kit may be purchased for only SORRY SOLD.



MASTER MODELCRAFT SCULP-TURNED "SENIOR" KITS

The "Scuulp-Turned Senior" kits by Master Modelcraft featured exceptionally good shaped fuselage parts. The line of these kits is shown below.

The B-29 kit is shown on the first page of this Vintage Kit section of this website. The kits below are complete but do not have their original boxes. An advertisement from 1945 for these Master Modelcraft kits may be viewed by clicking here.

A-20A HAVOC

This large scale A-20A has a wing span of 15 inches. The kit, less original box, is available for $65.00. These kits have well drawn plans.



LOCKHEED LIGHTNING P-38

This P-38 kit has a wing span of 13 inches and may be purchased for Sorry Sold without an original box.




MASTER MODELCRAFT SCULP-TURNED TEMPEST

This 1:48 scale Hawker Tempest kit features a sculpt-turned fuselage and clear canopy. A superb example of solid kits of the 1940s. The box is display quality and the kit is priced at $65.00.




BAMBOO MODEL CONSTRUCTION

In the early days of flying model airplanes, bamboo, basswood and reed were common building materials, each of which required construction techniques which are uncommon today. Balsa wood construction with glued joints was a late 1920s development and was common in manufactured kits in the 1930s. However, many model airplane magazine plans of the 1930s still depended upon bamboo as part of the structure - even some kits. Split bamboo can be bent into permanent shapes by forming over some sort of heat source - light bulb, open flame etc. An old box of model airplane detritus revealed plans of the late 1930s along with various parts including a built tail section for an unknown model. The open structure of the bamboo fin is shown below; note the intricately fastened ribs, joined with glue and thread wrap. Also note that each rib is in two parts, open in the middle. Many plans of the late 1930s still showed finely split bamboo for wing tip outline and the complete out line of tail surfaces. How would you like to build this tail structure? Some model catalogs of the period offered pre-bent reed and bamboo sections such as wing tips.




EUREKA KIT - "Mitsubishi Zero, Zeke 52" - U-Control

Model airplane kits were manufactured by a number of firms in Occupied Japan in the years following WWII; mostly scale U-control kits were featured. GI's based in Japan and Guam during the Korean War built many of the Japanese kits and occasionally a kit would find its way to the U.S., but no kits, that I know of, were being commercially exported from Japan to the U.S. in that time frame around 1950. The O.S. 29 engine, made in Osaka, came out in 1949 in the first version (see this engine on the Vintage Engines page) and was used to power many of the U-control kits being designed in Japan. The O.S, 29 third version was imported to the U.S. in 1953 by Bill Atwood. Other Japanese engines in the early 1950s included the Fuji, Enya and Mamiya.

Some of the Japanese kits had no identification regarding the manufacturer and some were labeled as "TMHK Inc" kits which was the Tokyo Mokei Modelcraft Co. of Tokyo, Japan. Most of the plans were not dated, nor was a manufacturer mentioned on many. I had some kits which had plans noted in both Japanese and English; however, the majority of kits that I've seen have been English only indicating that they were aimed at the American GI at the time. The plans are usually in blueprint or blueline.

The kits were elaborately prefabricated with most parts carefully cutout from kiri (?) wood (a fine grain, fairly light wood from the Paulownia tree). The parts were "home crafted" and passed around from house to house until fully finished and packaged as a kit. The U-control models were usually fully planked with sheets of kiri wood which made for a very heavy model! Interestingly, the English labeled plans sometimes refer to the wood as "kiri" wood, carefully putting quotation marks around the word; the "r" must have been the translated spelling from the Japanese spoken description of the material as I've also heard this wood referred to as "kili" wood.

I have a very nice THMK Ryan L-17 Navion with a 33" wingspan; the box has a large color label and a photo of the completed model; the kit is all kiri wood. Also, I have a similar maroon lid-type box with no label at all which contains a U-control P-47N Thunderbolt model with a 27 " wingspan; the plan is in English and has no date or manufacturer identification. The kit is all kiri wood. True craftsmen cutout these kits; the parts appear as nicely cut as modern laser-made kit parts. The various parts were usually banded together with colored cellophane strips.

CollectAir previously sold several Japanese kits from the 1950s, each with all kiri wood construction. Two of these kits had a great provenance as they were purchased in Japan in 1953 by the owner that sold the kits to us - a P-51H (yes, an "H") and an F-82F. The F-82F was labeled as a Eureka kit, but unlike the Eureka kit line sold in the U.S., this kit did not have any balsa material (more on this below). Another Japanese kiri wood kit, a F6F-5, was identified as an "H Model". An F-84 Japanese kit with all-metal skin is offered in Vintage Kit Annex 4 - this kit is labeled as a Suzuki&Edwards kit from Tokyo and was purchased by a GI in 1957 - again all kiri wood structure under the preformed metal skin.

The Eureka line of Japanese kits was sold in the U.S. by Eureka Importing Co. of Oklahoma City. The company was owned by Jerry Asner; Jerry was a GI in Korea and spent time in Japan in the early 1950s. An active modeler, Jerry made contact with a Japanese model company through his model flying activities in Japan - he took samples of the kits back to San Diego when his tour of duty was up. Getting some positive response to the kits, he went back to Japan and obtained permission to export kits to the U.S. for his newly formed international company, Eureka. The all kiri wood kit was unacceptable to the U.S. market so Jerry manufactured balsa parts in the U.S. to replace sheeting and large blocks; the precut kiri wood bulkheads, ribs etc. were retained. Balsa wasn't available in Japan at the time.

The advertisement shown below is from the February 1956 issue of Flying Models for the San Diego Model Shop. I suspect that this was Jerry's initial effort to sell the Japanese kits.

As the Eureka kit line was just getting started, Jerry was offered a job in Oklahoma City which he took - about a year later he opened a hobby shop in Oklahoma City, the address of which was carried on his advertisements in model magazines. According to an article which Jerry wrote for the March 2004 The KAPA Kollector, a storm destroyed most of his Eureka kits and he elected to discontinue the importing business. Advertising for the Eureka kit line (which included metal sheeted jets using various ram jets) seemed to peak (in size) around 1957; an example of his 1957 ad is shown below.

Eureka ads for the Japanese kits can be found into 1960 (reference American Modeler, May 1960 p.63); the Oklahoma City address changed in 1960.

The Zeke 52 kit offered here is undated but is shown in the ads from 1957. It has a wingspan of 34". The preformed ribs and bulkheads are typical of all the Eureka kits. The plan is a blueline on white paper, somewhat wrinkled. The box lid rates about a "7". The kit is complete. This Japanese/American collaborative kit is priced at $215.00.

Polks Model-Craft Hobbies imported a line of large (Polks called them "giant") R/C scale model kits in the late 1950s; I believe these were available well into the 1970s, perhaps later. Known as Aristo-Craft kits, these balsa and hardwood kits were made in Japan. The Beechcraft G17-S (designation on box), or G17R (designation on plan), kit has a 41" wingspan and was designed by Y. Murata, O.K. Model, Osaka, Japan; the box label states, "Made in Japan for Aristo-Craft Distinctive Miniatures, Newark, NJ 07114." There is no date on the plan. The Aristo-Craft line were excellent kits, designed for R/C which was rather crude at that time compared to today's systems. The ad shown below appeared in the March 1959 issue of American Modeler. Note that the Beechcraft, 40" span, 32" long, was available for $14.95, not an insignificant price in 1959, equivalent to about $111.00 today.

I believe that the term "Occupied Japan" ended around 1959 as Japan again became independent. Do you know when the last Aristo-Craft R/C kits were sold?

The kit would build into a pretty heavy model as liberal use of plywood and "Japanese Cypress" is made along with balsa. Details of the Staggerwing kit are shown below. This kit, along with several extras including retracts and servos, is available for $500.00.




Y.M.C. A6M5 "Zake"

What, you say, is a "Zake"? Presented here for your pleasure, is an example of a Japanese solid model kit from the 1950s (estimated). The kit is labeled as a "A6M5ZAKE," undoubtedly a Japanese mistranslation of the U.S. code name "Zeke." The kit measures to a scale of pretty close to 1:72. The Nakajima Hikoki K.K. Model 52 "Zeke" in the NASM collection is shown below.

The model is hardwood, profile cut. Wheels, spinner, gear wire, and paper insignia are provided. The kit came in a printed, plastic bag. Note in the plan, shown below, that the image used to head the plan has a two-blade prop and sports the USAF postwar (1947 on) insignia and what might be a British roundel on the fuselage! Aside from the rather humorous airbrush rendition of the "Zake" on the plan, the kit itself could be built into a passable model, the equivalent of many of the inexpensive U.S. solid kits of the era. NFS.




FALCON P-6E CONTROL-LINE SPORT MODEL KIT

This kit of the Curtiss P-6E is a large biplane model with a wingspan of 36 inches. It was designed by Frank Greene and uses Jim Walker's U-Control patent. The model plan shows an Atwood Champion ignition motor with parallel head fins making this at least a 1946 kit. Falcon seems to have vanished sometime in the late 1940s so I'm dating this kit accordingly.

This kit is incomplete as most of the printwood (ribs and a few fuselage bulkheads) are missing; all of the other components are included such as very nice rubber wheels, control horn, balsa sheets and blocks, wire and stripwood, precut wheel pants, stabilizer, elevators and firewall. Both full-scale plan sheets are included. A moderately experienced builder would have no problem creating the few missing parts as most are shown on the plan. The box lid is missing one end but the graphics are worthy of display. This P-6E would make a very handsome U-control model, recreating the active era of scale control-line flight around 1950. Dig out that .60 ignition engine for this model which has lots of wing area. You can own this 50 year-old kit for Sorry, sold, less than the price of a modern comparable kit.




RAY LOCKHEED P-80

A Ray-Ring, all-balsa solid model from 1945. You can own this superb kit of a 12-inch wingspan P-80 for only $75.00.




MEGOW'S CORBEN SUPER-ACE KIT NO. C6

This is a fun kit as you will see below. The "C" series of Megow's kits were inexpensive flying models priced at half of the "J" series (which later became the "X" series); some of the "C" series were scale and a few were non-scale. This Corben Super-Ace kit is not dated but the plan is definitely from the pre-war period; the kit was listed in the 1941 Megow's catalog. A rather simple kit which should have made a good flier. Only a single sheet of printwood, a blank sheet, wheels, stick pack, balsa prop, covering tissue and a nose plug with wire comprise the kit along with an interesting plan which measures 15" x 19". Several sections of the plan are shown below; note in the first scan that a "ghost" plan appears. Apparently Megow's was hard up for paper at the time and, in a cost saving measure, the Corben plan was printed on the back side of another surplus Megow's plan - the only time I've ever seen such a printing. The back side is a plan of a rather obscure Megow's kit No. X4, the Douglas 8A-5 (see the reverse side plan in the photo below). What, you ask, is the Douglas 8A-5? This was an attack bomber based on the A-17A which apparently was destined for Norway or Peru but the overseas sales were cancelled and 31 of the 34 built were repossessed. The airplane became the Air Corps A-33. The A-33 became target tugs, liason or training aircraft. Megow's sales of this kit must of lagged and the plans used for other purposes.

The box rates about a "7.5", very nice for its age. All end flaps are present and the box is reasonably bright considering the style of printing and the paper used at the time. Note that the address for Megow's is given on the plan as Howard and Oxford Streets, Philadelphia. An unusual kit with a decent box, priced at $52.50.

The painting below shows the Corben Super-Ace as advertised by Williams Bros. Inc. in Catalog 287. A superb depiction by aviation artist John Amendola. Note that the "N" number is the same as the kit.




READY TO FLY CURTISS ROBIN - 1932

The wonderful Model Airplane News cover, shown below, from May 1932, depicts the fabulous Supermarine S.6.B. Schneider Cup racer. The S.6.B. set a speed record of 408.8 miles per hour over a three kilometer course at Calshot, England in September 1931. You can click on the cover and load a higher resolution JPEG which can be printed.

Browsing through this early issue of MAN, there is an advertisement on page 40 that touts an "Oh boy!" offer - win a speedy plane by delivering "three well-known magazines to regular customers." What the ad doesn't say is that the "regular customers" are up to you to generate. I know - I delivered Liberty and Saturday Evening Post as a lad. Not only did you have to promote the customers, but you had to collect the money for each issue as you delivered. Amazing how many dead beats there were. The ad is shown below - note the lower model, a "beautiful" Curtiss Robin, or what the coupon calls a "dandy model."

This is the only reference that I've been able to locate showing this Curtiss Robin ready-to-fly model; the manufacturer is unknown. I recently acquired a photograph which depicts three lovely ladies assembling this particular model in what appears to be two versions (note wing center cutout on some with a cabane strut mounted wing and others with the wing mounted on the cabin). Note all the striped boxes stacked up - this is quite a production line. Are all these destined for kids lugging around their cloth sack of magazines, knocking on doors, hoping to win a "dandy plane?" If you can offer more info on this model and its manufacturer, I would appreciate it. Meanwhile, I envy these ladies building model airplanes all day during the depression. Note that the model sitting on boxes by the hanging lamp appears to be the Fairchild "racing plane."




JAPANESE IMP PROPELLERS - PRE-WW2

The International Models catalog of model supplies, dated 1941, carries several pages devoted to the I.M.P. line of Paulownia propellers and accessories, ranging from smallscale and rubber props to gas props, dummy engines, cowlings, wing ribs etc. They also pointed out that this line of props which has been on the market for ten years, is being copied by others and the trade-marked name is being spelled differently to confuse the buyer. The four props shown below are prewar and are listed in the catalog, as shown; rather slick little props for scale models, something that is not on the market today! The props shown are 5" in diameter.

I.M.P. even made a nifty scale wood-style prop in mahogany finish with silver leading edges and tips and the hub studded with brass bolts - usable on either gas or rubber models.

I.M.P. carried a large line of model products, many from Japan. Following WW2, International Models specialized in rail, boat, tools, and the Minikin historical figures.

Twist my arm and I might sell you one of these rare props for $25.00.

Notice in the ad below, from 1935, by the company that allegedly "infringed" on I.M.P.'s name of "Paulownia" by changing the spelling - who came first?




FROG MODEL AIRCRAFT 1932-1976
The Complete History of the Flying Aircraft & the Plastic Kits
By Richard Lines & Leif Hellström

The "Made in England" ready-to-fly FROG airplanes, the FROG kits, engines and the PENGUIN plastic models, all manufactured by entities under the umbrella of Lines Bros. Ltd., Tri-Ang Works, International Model Aircraft Ltd. (IMA) and FROG International, are very collectible today. This book is the bible for FROG collectors; the complete history of the company and a compilation of all the various models and kits are detailed in listings and copious color photos and copies of catalogues. The book measures 8 " x 12" and has 272 pages. This is the First Edition published in England in 1989. The cover board has the same graphic as shown on the dust jacket. A magnificent book, exemplary in its definitive coverage in both text and photos. This book is priced at $120.00. The book is being sold and described as "new" as it is NOS just discovered at CollectAir. I thought my personal copy was the only one in-house until this one popped up in our new book inventory.

The dust jacket states: "FROG (Flies Right Off the Ground) model aircraft were made by a division of Lines Bros. Ltd. (Triang Toys, Minic, etc.). They were continuously in the forefront of innovation for both flying and static models, being the first to perfect the plastic kit which brought in the era of fine scale detail (See the Vintage Plastic Kit page for a photo of the PENGUIN kits). The book tells the story of all these models, their origins and construction and something of the commercial considerations that influenced their design. As the first book on this subject, it will become an invaluable reference work and will include a compendium of all the plastic kits, including non-aircraft models - cars, ships and military items etc., produced from 1936-1976 together with full details of the flying models and motors for boats and aircraft from 1932 onwards."

I found one listing in the book which failed to include all the information on a FROG ready-to-fly model that is in the CollectAir collection, The pre-war "Speed Demon Special" is pictured on page 243 (shown below) and described on page 244 as a 1938-1939 model made for Quaker Oats as a premium offer and described as similar to the FROG "Avenger" - and furthermore, never appearing in FROG catalogs. However, I have a kit for the "El 'Speed Demon'" which was obviously made for the foreign market; this kit has the same winder mechanism and model but the instructions and box lid are not printed in English. Photos are presented below to show this unusual model.

You are welcome to add any information concerning this kit. This same listing appears on the Book page.




From March 1940 issue of "Air Trails."



For your next scale flying model, print out or save the panel and pilot shown below and scale to fit your model.




From September 1910 "Aircraft" magazine.




Richard T. Whitcomb, the famous Langley Research Center engineer, died in 2009. Whitcomb developed the "coke bottle" fuselage and the supercritical wing - interestingly, he was an avid model airplane builder and designer as a youth during the 1930s. A short obit for Richard Whitcomb may be viewed by clicking here.









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